During term-time I'm hard at work four miles away while the market vendors are peddling their wares, and the party's over by the time I'm back home. This doesn't mean I miss out entirely on their best deals. My frugal friend gets me a big block of mature cheddar every fortnight:
At £5.00 for 1.1kg, and lasting us for a fortnight, that is a GOOD deal, and it is delicious. But grateful to my friend though I am, there's nothing like ferreting out those market bargains for myself. If like me, the small things in life make you happy, you will have some idea of the excitement I feel every holiday Tuesday when we set off with our empty shopping bags, and the ensuing disappointment when we discover that if business is slow, your average market seller won't hang around waiting to clinch that one cut-price cheddar deal. They're gone.
This week, we weren't going to be caught out and were up there bright and early. What sort of bargains did we find? The fruit and veg is good quality and there were lots of the 'two punnets for £2.50' kind of deal, and the very first English apples of the season were also cheap.
The cheese stall too, offers good deals. As well as our favourite cheddar option, there's a fantastic '3 pieces of cheese for £1' deal, and we've grown rather fond of Caprice des Dieux this summer, France's first oval cheese. It's a creamy cheese that's firm and has a taste of fresh mushroom and nut (well it does once you've read the description on the website). Dieu que c'est bon! Especially at £1 per packet.
I try never to let myself be seduced by packaging but you can't but love these little cheese cupids. It's those small things again.
Our market is not big, so it pretty much ends there for us. If this little piggy ate roast beef more often, then we might avail ourselves of the meat stall.
So all well and good? Ah, I didn't mention the olive stall. That's why it's always more frugal to be the piggy that stayed at home and to send a frugal friend to do your shopping for you. She won't come away with three tubs of different sorts of olives that weren't on the list.
Markets definitely have a place in the frugal tool kit, as long as you have steely self-control! But don't overlook the fact that there are myriad other benefits too: shopping outdoors, not under those dreadful fluorescent lights, less gratuitous packaging and all that chatting to the stallholders and trying-before-you-buy. It's hard to put a price on that.
Look out for next week's blog post on Farmers' Markets.
Markets - do you love 'em or hate 'em?
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